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Friday, March 19, 2010

Recent thoughts about the Kindle...

Technology shifts and sifts the way we think about life. Yesterday I came across a free, Kindle download for my Mac. I wonder about the Kindle, the uncertain future of the iPad, and where the dust will settle?

Although the question is posed and we sit waiting for the answer, I believe books will never go out of style. There will always be a market demand for printed books because of me. That's right, I will forever want to physically handle a printed book. I like to physically hold it; I like to physically turn the page; I like to physically underline and handwrite comments in the margin; I like to judge books by their covers. If I am just one of millions who feel the same way about books, then I am pretty confident that there will always be a market for printed books.

Am I a book snob? Am I a book hypocrite? If I am honest–"Yes, to the former and "No," to the latter. Technology is neutral–it has things to affirm and to challenge. First off, a quick list of things I like about the Kindle (this is not exhaustive):

  • In the long run, I know it would save money on books.
  • It would save physical shelf space.
  • It would allow for easy access to a library of books at your fingertips while traveling, etc. (Which makes me pose the question, "With such availability, are we really reading or accumulating?" That sounds like a great post for another time!)

Now, the main reasons why I am hesitant to fork out the mullah:

  • It would take me years to "save" the money. Why? Right now in my life I am buying more printed, reference books than pleasure reading.
  • I am waiting to see what the iPad does in the coming years. I think if the iPad does all that I think it will able to do, then why spend $400 plus on a gadget that can do one thing, when you could spend a little bit more and get a gadget that does multiple things.
  • The books I would buy for Kindle are books that I want to read but don't want to spend much, if any, money on them. Nor would I care to read them twice. For these types of books, I am content to either read someone else's review about the book or skim the book at Barnes-n-Noble for free (OR USE THE PUBLIC LIBRARY).

Why spend $20-30 on a new book that will be read by millions this week but then be out of date as fast as the next book is off the press next week? So then, why spend the money on a Kindle that potentially will have the same fate as this week's bestseller? I suppose that is what at the end of the day holds me back––the future Kindle upgrades, soon-to-be-released iPad, or some other gadget that makes the first generation of e-readers obsolete.

Which is another reason I don't think printed books will ever be obsolete––as a technology, they have been tested by several thousands of years. With all this said, I installed the Kindle app on my Mac and went browsing for Kindle books. I found my first book that cost $0.00 and got really excited (I enjoy G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy and Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice). My next task is to figure out how to rotate my screen so I can turn my Mac into an e-reader. I can dabble with the technology without experiencing buyer's remorse.

UPDATE: After writing but before posting, I found out that the Kindle is not $400 plus anymore. The price is going down, but my reasons still stand at this time.

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